NHRA founder Wally Parks, right, presented Ernie Schorb with NHRA’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2000 Winternationals.
Ernie Schorb, a South Florida pioneering drag racing organizer and promoter who became NHRA’s first Southeast Division director, died May 7.
Schorb began his involvement in drag racing in the 1950s, racing his '34 flathead-powered Ford as a Miami-area member of the Ramblers car club. In 1954, he became regional advisor to NHRA and moved to California in 1958 as NHRA’s business manager at the original NHRA headquarters in Los Angeles. He returned to Miami in 1959 when he was named NHRA’s first Southeast Division director. During that time, he and first NHRA Southeast Tech Director Bill Smith traveled across the Southeast, spreading the NHRA word on drag racing safety.
In 1960, Schorb spearheaded the joint venture between NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and NHRA founder Wally Parks to host the inaugural Winternationals. Schorb actually coined the name “Winternationals,” which remains one of NHRA’s largest racing events. The seven-day, mid-February races were held at night during NASCAR’s Speedweek races in Daytona Beach, Fla., in nearby Bunnell, Fla.
In February 2000, during the 40th Anniversary NHRA Winternationals, Schorb was presented with NHRA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Parks presented the award on the starting line before Sunday’s final eliminations. In 2002, at the NHRA Gatornationals, Schorb received the Pioneers Award from NHRA. He also was inducted into the NHRA Southeast Division Hall of Fame in 1982.
Schorb continued to remain active in the drag racing world as a volunteer member of the board of directors of the East Coast Drag Racing Hall of Fame Museum in Henderson, N.C., and was one of the 2006 ECDR Hall of Fame inductees.